Monday, November 15, 2010

Hard-wired or softly spoken

The debate about gender and language use is one that has been a hot topic in linguistics for the best part of 40 years. From Robin Lakoff's "Women's Language Hypothesis", through to the staunchly feminist dominance model, into the difference model of Maltz & Borker popularised by Deborah Tannen and then John Gray, before recently heading into a discourse and diversity approach championed by Deborah Cameron, the debate has developed apace.

Today's Guardian features a strong comment piece by Madeleine Bunting that focuses on the recent clashes between followers of a "hard-wired" approach to gender differences, and those who suggest that context and individual differences are more important. Deborah Cameron is a key reference point in the article and it's exactly the kind of debate about language (and other things) that underpins the ENGA3 unit on the AQA A spec, and the ENGA4 Language Intervention. It's also an interesting read for anyone who wants to mug up on some of the latest arguments about biological determinism and the influence of culture and upbringing.

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